I need help choosing language to study at school!

(18 Posts)
SevenPalms Sun 24-Feb-13 06:31:30

I need help deciding what language to choose for my son.

My son, 7 years old has been studying Mandarin for 4 years. We live in Asia and when he attended Kindergarden there was a 3rd teacher in the class who only spoke to them in Mandarin and they picked up a fair bit of it. Just for the record, an emersion process like this is the best way to learn Mandarin when young.

Now he attends international school and the Mandarin teaching is awful. It is the only time I have ever heard my son say that he hates a part of school. We have the option to change next year and we will.

The options we have are beginners French or Spanish. My son already speaks some Spanish as his Dad is bilingual and he also attended a playgroup/ kindergarden lesson in Spanish for 18 months. However we will be returning to the UK next year and the school he will be attending teaches French from reception. He can study Spanish in their after school club.

My heart is saying Spanish, but my head is saying French, since on joining the new school his peers will have been learning French for 4 years.

I desperately need a cool head to tell me what the best option for HIM would be, rather than my own personal preferences (since I too speak Spanish and we go there a lot).

LeMousquetaireAnonyme Sun 24-Feb-13 06:44:07

Well if he already speaks some spanish he will find the beginner spanish lessons boring, isn't he?
I would go for french, but do ask him if he is interested 1st. At 7 you can have an open discussion with him about what and why.
I still think my parents where wrong to force me to do german instead of spanish... hmm

LeMousquetaireAnonyme Sun 24-Feb-13 06:48:20

On the other hand if he is struggling at school, I would choose spanish so he can see that he is at least (last) good at something, and increase his confidence.

SevenPalms Sun 24-Feb-13 07:21:38

LeMous, he is not fluent or anywhere near that in Spanish so the beginners lessons would be fine for him. We love Spain and have lots of relatives from there so there is a great interest in the language from our and his side. He is very interested in the language.

He is doing well at school although what they teach here and back home is very different. The infant schools in the UK are a lot more academic and my current school is very touchy feely and reluctant to hurt the children's feelings by putting a bit of pressure on them to improve their reading and writing. Although my son is bright, he will be put into a completely different study environment to what he is used to and I feel that adding French on top of that may be a bit much for the poor little guy.

LeMousquetaireAnonyme Sun 24-Feb-13 07:42:03

Then if I were you I would put him in the french lessons so he is not completely lost when going back to the UK. One challenge is enough for them at that age.
He can always pick up spanish later or from family.

happily3 Tue 26-Feb-13 21:06:22

How about finding one or two things for him to listen to in French to try out the sounds? - maybe online or on youtube? e.g. http://youtu.be/m6WQO_EY8aI And make the decision nearer the time.

vamosbebe Tue 26-Feb-13 21:10:19

Honestly, on the scale of one-to-ten of usefulness, I'd say Spanish is higher than French. It's spoken in more places by more people and it's close to Italian, so that's another possibility when he's older (eg at university).

FWIW I think French is a beautiful language, although one I could never get my thick head around

ZZZenAgain Wed 27-Feb-13 10:36:32

he will only have one year of the language before moving so he probably won't make great progress with it if it is simply a year taught in primary IMO. Will he have to learn French at his new school in the UK? If so, you might as well do French to get him started. If he does not have to attend French lessons at the new school, I would do Spanish.

Is there any way you could have a private tutor work with him in Mandarin perhaps in the school library when his class has lessons with this awful teacher? It seems a shame for him to stop now after 4 years learning the language. Maybe he could just do that and not take up either French or Spanish at this stage.

SevenPalms Thu 28-Feb-13 12:46:21

I would but my son hates Mandarin with a passion as do a lot of the children learning it.

julen Thu 28-Feb-13 16:48:02

Based on what you say, I think I'd go for Spanish. If he is already interested in it he will learn so much more than when being steered into another direction, I imagine.. I am biased though - I very much believe in going with a child's interest if there is a choice, as you just learn more if you're interested. It's quite amazing how little will stick if you dislike a subject...

ZZZenAgain Thu 28-Feb-13 18:21:02

If he hates Mandarin, irrespective of the teacher and he does not have compulsory French at his new school, I would definitely do Spanish.

French. That will give him a headstart when he starts school in England. Far far more primary schools teach French than Spanish here, although there are exceptions. Children (or adults for that matter) who speak one language learn a second or third much faster. Your son already has a huge advantage!

scaevola Fri 01-Mar-13 07:26:52

Prep school French is no great shakes, and nearly all secondaries start again from scratch.

Go for Spanish.

TwoBoiledEggs Fri 01-Mar-13 08:39:43

Spanish! French is lessening in senior schools ime. My DC will be doing Spanish and Mandarin in year 7 and 8 for example and then free choice between those and German and French in year 9. There will be less and less of a French bias in the UK over time I believe.

SoldeInvierno Sun 03-Mar-13 09:56:17

I would choose French to help him when you come back UK. He can always continue with Spanish at the afterschool club or other existing clubs. Althought I must say my experience with those clubs has never been great and I ended up registering my bilingual child with a tutor to ensure both his languages are kept at the same level.

2rebecca Mon 04-Mar-13 21:07:47

I'd let him choose because i doubt it makes much difference and I find kids do best at subjects they enjoy. I'd give him the pros and cons of each and let him decide.

happily3 Tue 05-Mar-13 12:32:39

Here are two identical videos, one in French, the other in Spanish (free and NO monetization or anything) for his sort of age. Maybe looking at them with him a few times might help him/you with the choice?
Spanish: http://youtu.be/PnVC3Ggg-UI
French: http://youtu.be/m6WQO_EY8aI

Kenlee Sat 09-Mar-13 02:45:19

Actually I would choose Spanish. I worked in the US for a few months at the CDC and found that the unofficial language was Spanish. I also think your child should try to retain the Mandarin.

My daughter also hates it with a passion but if you have the big three going around the world is easier. Btw French is very big in Africa so knowing all four is advantageous.

hope that helps and btw my daughter is doing the big three you will find children can absorb languages faster than we can.

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